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would testify less confidently if they knew that all their statements were to be properly reviewed; science itself would be more fairly represented, public interests would be subserved, and charlatanry would be the only sufferer.




BEFORE narrating any further natural history superstitions, I wish cordially to thank, one and all, the many readers who have so kindly written, now to express an interested recognition of some belief of their own childhood, and again to send other superstitions from different localities. Such of these fancies as had not already been collected for the present article I gladly insert. The beliefs here mentioned consist more largely than did those described in a previous paper[1] of such as are shared alike by children and adults.

One correspondent expressed strong doubt as to whether children manifested much originality in their mythical conclusions, thinking that the latter were almost always exaggerated or grotesque distortions of ideas which they had gathered from their elders, often from their nurses. Recognizing the full power of these influences, I must still give the children credit for originating many of the strange notions under consideration. I can not better illustrate this ability of children to form original conclusions, however incorrect, than by quoting from another correspondent, a physician, who says:

"I think I could not have been more than four years old when I began to question myself as to where I came from, and why I was not a boy—for my father, like Mr. Dombey, wanted a son for the 'house'—and from my earliest remembrance I have had it impressed upon me that girls were worse than useless things, and that to be something that would grow up into a man was 'a consummation devoutly to be wished.' I wondered what was the difference (and it was a very great difference) between my father and my mother. * Surely, I thought, 'there is no greater differerence between my dog and cat, between the horse and cow,' and I reasoned, therefore, that the dog must be the male of the cat, the horse of the cow, the turkey of the hen, and so on. I shall never forget with what complacency I decided in my own mind this great question, nor how reluctant I was to discard it, even when a

  1. See "The Popular Science Monthly" for July, 1886.